Online Fly Fishing Magazine

Flies To Tie And Try: The Leven Viva

Black and green are colours, which have been associated with early season patterns for many years. Fly tying ace Richard Garbett brings you an early season pattern that will keep you catching throughout the year, whether on the point or on the dropper…The Leven Viva.

Flies To Tie And Try: The Leven Viva

The Leven Viva is a superb pattern that will appeal to both brownies and rainbows, especially early season where the black and green/yellow colour combination has always been a well known killer of our spotted friends.

Many of my early fishing memories include it’s older brother, the standard Viva or indeed the Montana Nymph. I don’t know what it is about these colours; maybe it’s just a contrast thing?

I haven’t been able to find any history whatsoever about the Leven Viva, I’ve seen a YouTube video of Davie McPhail tying it but not sure if it’s one of his patterns or not or maybe another favourite fly dresser of mine, Dave Downie? If anyone does have any knowledge at all about it’s origins, I’d be very interested to hear from you.

Flies such as this will catch at any time of the year, but the beginning of the season has always been a fantastic time for this meeting of colours.
I can’t think there could be a stillwater anywhere around that this fly wouldn’t pick up fish. It’s big brother, the standard Viva used to be one of the very first patterns I would try if I was wanting to use pulling techniques at the start of a new season.

I nearly always fish the Leven Viva as a point fly or on its own when on single fly only waters (There’s still a few out there!) I’ve had most success with it on a fast intermediate and Di3 lines usually with a fairly fast retrieve of short pulls. As with all pulling flies, ensure you fish it all the way to the surface, the trout will often smash it right at the last second!

As with the similar Cormorant patterns, tie up and use in a variety of sizes from 8-14. They’ll all have their day throughout the season.

Step 1

Fix a strong wet-fly hook into the vice and a lay a base of thread up the shank.

Step 2

Tie in your floss tail and trim to length, now add the body and ribbing materials.

Step 3

Wind an even floss body, you can make this as thick as you like. Then rib the body with the tinsel.

Step 4

Tie in your black marabou wing, Cormorant style, to the length of your personal preference. I like it to slightly pass the tail.

Step 5

Add a couple of strands of flash material to each side of fly; you can also tie in your jungle cock cheeks if required.

Step 6

Dub a small amount of gold Lite-Brite onto the thread and build up a flashy head. Whip finish, varnish and the Leven Viva is complete.

Tying The Fly

HOOK: Wet fly, size 8-14
THREAD: Uni 8/0, fire orange
TAIL: 5-6 strands of Glo-Brite floss No.11
RIB: Opal Mirage tinsel or gold tinsel
BODY: Glo-Brite floss no.11
WING: Black marabou
FLASH: A few strands of Krystal-Flash or Mosaic type material
CHEEKS: Jungle cock (optional)
HEAD: Gold Lite-Brite (also optional)


Over 5,000 materials in stock, supplying the best in fly tying materials including Regal, Veniard, Partridge, C&F, Hends, Chevron and more.

T: 01782 698 330 | E: | W:

Written by